Thursday, March 31, 2022

Breaking News April 1, Twenty Twenty Too

Melinda Palacio

2022 News Hound


Top Ten Breaking News Items of Today, April 1, TwentyTwentyToo

1. The Easter Bunny will now take over Santa Claus's duties and Peeps production will increase the  replacement of chocolate santas, buñuelos, and candy canes. 

2. Due to the overconsumption of blueberries, there will be a blueberry tax on each berry, especially if used on gentrified donuts. 

3. Will Smith is a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. 

4.  The CDC has declared that a tequila shot may stand in for a covid booster.

5. New Orleans health officials have discovered that a beignet a day keeps the witch doctor away.

6. The City of Los Angeles will buy gasoline for sedans with more than four occupants. 

7. Chocolate is not only good for your health, the fruit of the Aztecs also heals broken hearts. 

8. Japanese scientist have discovered a way to make dogs speak human languages. The dog food companies are not happy about this discovery. 

9. The Vatican confirms that all people who play music will go to heaven. 

10. Bookstores will no longer sell poetry. 

Pandora wishes everyone a safe and sane April  1. 

Shadows of a Faded Past (fiction)

by Daniel Cano                                                                              

 “We submit to pragmatists, profiteers, and the paranoiacs who insist that war is part of our humanity, our identity.” Viet Thanh Nguyen

                                                                        Chapter One     


     By late December 2001, Baja and U.S. authorities had completed their investigation and found no evidence of foul play. From all indications, the American, Raul Armenta, had chosen to “walk away.”

     The family believed it had been a shoddy investigation. Iliana Armenta, Raul’s daughter and a college sophomore at the time, had been keeping me updated on the details of her father’s disappearance. As one of his best friends, I’d pass the news on to members in our veterans’ support group, all of us baffled by our friend’s strange behavior that last weekend in Tijuana.

     With nowhere to turn, Iliana had asked, “Do you think my dad’s friends could help?”

     Most of us knew Iliana since she was a kid. For years, Raul had been bringing her around to our social gatherings, completely separate from our group therapy sessions in an old bungalow at the West L.A. V.A. We believed as long as we protected each other’s confidentiality, we weren’t violating any psychological ethics codes.

     I’d told Iliana I’d try looking into the matter a little further, but I couldn’t speak for the other guys. She’d said anything I could do would be appreciated by Raul’s family, especially his aging parents who were worried sick.

     When I did approach the group with her request, Chato Benitez, an owner of an insurance business and an elder Seabee who had seen heavy action in Danang, had answered, “It’s Mexico, man. Anything can happen down there. Those people see us as pochos.”

     Another guy, Ruben Carrillo, a high school counselor and ex-Army engineer with two purple hearts, had spouted, “It’s also out of our league,” where upon all eyes shifted to Sid Castro, an Afro, half-Puerto Rican Chicano, and a newly retired LAPD detective from Baldwin Hills. An ex-Marine who survived the Tet offensive in Hue, Sid had looked straight ahead, arms crossed, and said nothing, but it was clear the wheels in his brain were turning.

     Someone else had piped up, “They destroyed the Trade Center in New York, just barely a few months ago? Man, everybody’s suspicious of everybody. Going to T.J. and start asking questions doesn’t seem like a good idea.”

     When we’d first learned Raul hadn’t returned from a weekend trip to Tijuana, we’d danced around the reasons why. Some guys had concluded Raul had been under a lot of pressure at work and in his personal life, so maybe he’d had it and “just split,” or was “on a hiatus,” and “when he gets his head straight, he’ll be back.”

     A few guys thought that maybe he had, “…accidentally gotten caught up in some ugly border dealings.” A lone voice had argued, “Raul’s too straight for trouble, unless it found him.” I reminded them the police had found no evidence of foul play. “That’s the Tijuana cops talking,” another voice had reminded us. A couple of guys in the group thought it useless to speculate, and others had no opinion.

     One point we’d all agreed on was that Raul, a university administrator, an ex-shrink, forever the pragmatist, the realist, and the straight shooter, wouldn’t purposely cause his daughter, elderly parents or family needless worry.

     Ben Avila, a fabulist and an award-winning novelist the guys considered eccentric, had said, “Unless, he went Alice and Wonderland on us all.” That brought a long silence.

     Guys had admitted they carried a nagging anxiety around, thinking whatever happened to Raul could have happened to any one of us. “The mind does strange things,” a guy had quipped, “no matter how many years go by, you know.”

     Anticipating their hesitation, I’d told them we had to put our own personal feelings aside and consider the family’s request. Like educated professionals, we debated the issue. It took me a lot of guilt-tripping and some deductive reasoning to persuade them. Finally, I had eyed each of them as they sat in a circle, and I said, “Raul started this group, and we all owe him, some of us more than others. I’m all in, and I could use the help.”

     I had the reputation for tenacity, getting the job done no matter what. I’d go it alone if I had to, and they knew it. My wife had strong reservations against my involvement, mainly for my own mental state. Sid, the cop, raised his hand first and next Ben and Ray Sender, both university professors, Army grunts during the war, Ray, a half-Anglo Chicano, ponytail and all, and heavily into Gandhian non-violence, something of mystic still living in the 60s.

     A few guys volunteered to “work in the Rear,” as we called it, helping to read, organize, and document whatever material we collected.

     We’d given ourselves three months. Ben and Ray started with the Baja journalist who shared his sources with them, but warned, a tinge of fear in his voice, “Don’t mention my name anywhere.” We weren’t naive. We understood, more or less, border politics.

     Sid had volunteered to “have a chat” with the Tijuana cops, starting with the chief, who, once our research got going, took Sid to lunch at a restaurant that overlooked the entire city. He told Sid everything he knew about Raul’s disappearance, but nothing we hadn’t already heard. A cop even took Sid on a ride-along around Tijuana, something Sid interpreted as a way of saying, “leave well enough alone.”

     We met at the V.A. and drove to Tijuana from L.A., following Raul's route along the 405, two or three times, walked the same streets and visited the same locations he had, guided by the journalist’s sources. We showed Raul’s picture and told his story to anyone willing to listen. Mostly, though, all of it coming so soon after 9-11, people wanted to know what we thought about extremist Islamic terrorism and if the U.S. would invade Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.

     We collected most of our information via telephone and Internet. We met regularly, shared what we’d learned, and considered all angles the cops may have missed, “or,” like Sid had said, “…refused to reveal.”

     Kiki Salas, an old-timer in our group, an artilleryman who had sacrificed his legs in the war, and Carl Figueroa, a loner, an infantry paratrooper in Vietnam, like Raul, and one of the newer guys in group, helped with data entry.

     I pored over Raul’s digital footprint and hardcopy files, personal journals, even books from the vast library, many tomes he’d carefully annotated. I spent hours with his family, as well as wandering Raul’s split-level, modernist Beverly Wood home, his pride and joy, the only possession he salvaged after his divorce, fifteen years earlier. I saw sides of my friend I never knew existed.

     Sometimes I sat and read deep into the night, Raul’s voice taking me back to those early conversations right after our discharge, barely out of our teens, our psyches raw, part of us still in Vietnam. After My Lai broke, I’d said, “Raul, you believe that a Chicano captain allowed it to happen, but the cover-up, man, that’s the worst.”

     Raul’s answer had surprised me. In a cool but tempered voice, he’d said, “Adults with authority tell 19 and 20-year-old kids it’s alright to light up every V.C. or V.C. sympathizer, men, women, and children…that’s what happens. Those kids don’t see human beings. They see enemy, and that’s how we – I mean, ‘they’ viewed them.” What had he been holding back?  

     When we’d gone as far as we could, the guys working in the “rear,” compiled and categorized the cache of information, saving it on hard drives and thumb drives. I filed it away in my home office, a converted two-car garage, where I locked myself away trying to make sense of it all.

     A few weeks later, I emerged with something of a rough sketch in hand, which I shared, first with my wife, Serena, a Chicana sociologist, for her feedback, then with Raul’s family, omitting anything possibly embarrassing to my friend. Though our work couldn’t offer them a definitive answer, the family was grateful when I’d painted the larger picture for them.

     I continued another six months sacrificing evenings, weekends, and breaks from teaching, Serena, finally warning me about confronting my own ghosts of Vietnam. I’d barely made it out.

     “Anthony, let it go! You know what can happen. This isn’t like therapy, with a shrink, in controlled environment. This is different, sitting out here alone, his voice in your head, hours of absorbing Raul’s trauma, reminding you of your own.”

     I had told her I was nearly finished with it, and I’d be glad to finally let it go. Then, I’d return to my backyard study, more hours, mesmerized by the wall covered with colored notecards, Post Its, plastic pins, photos, and twine connecting people, locations, and events. It reminded me how after my discharge, during my first quickie marriage, I’d hung a map of South Vietnam on my garage wall, colored pens marking the places I’d served, and scribblings in the margins the names of friends killed or wounded. Sometimes, I’d wake from a deep sleep to mark a location, afraid if I waited until I awoke for work, I’d forget. My obsession annoyed the hell out of my ex, who had been an avid anti-war protestor.

     When we’d started researching Raul’s disappearance, we knew we wouldn’t find out what happened to him. That was part of the frustration. I’d told my friends if we could collect enough information, so I could compose a cohesive narrative of his final days, and maybe we could answer the “whys” more than the “where’s,” that would be enough.

     Kiki had said, “Hey! What I don’t get is why Tijuana—Mexico, you know? Of all places to go MIA, a shitty border town,” to which Ben had answered, “Not anymore. It’s a city, Emerald City to some and Gotham to others.”

     After I’d given everyone our interpretation of events, I went back and immersed myself in the volume of documents we’d gathered, a tsunami of information, and the more I read, the more I realized Raul’s disappearance didn’t begin that last day in Tijuana, but back in 1974, when he had received a visit from an Army CID detective investigating alleged war crimes committed by his recon unit, the Lion’s Claw, in a place they called the Red River Valley, Republic of South Vietnam. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

LitFest Pasadena





LitFest Pasadena Returns Live

& Reimagined this Spring!


Celebrating our 10th year,

we're embracing a dynamic new format and expanding locations.


Save the Dates!


Saturday, April 30 - Saturday, May 14, 2022



We begin…


Saturday, April 30 at the architectural masterpiece Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena with everything mystery, thriller, true crime, horror, speculative fiction, and science fiction, culminating the evening with a conversation between bestselling authors Gregg Hurwitz and Michael Connelly.


May 4 and May 11 - on two Wednesdays, come to Altadena Library for acclaimed authors Naomi Hirahara, Attica Locke, Reyna Grande, and Rachel Harper discussing writing as a tool for social justice and social change, as well as Friendships and the Literary Life, Uncaged Voices: Transcending Bondages, and the Macondo Workshop.


Saturday, May 7 is Red Hen Press day with discussions on the state of the current and future publishing industry, the avenues to pursue and how to navigate the challenges, as well as a Craft of Writing panel discussion and workshop.


Saturday, May 14 come to Pasadena Presbyterian Church to hear bestselling authors and award-winning authors such as Marla Frazee (picture book), Brenda Woods (middle grade), Tessa Dare (romance), and Erika Schickel and Maggie Rowe (memoir).


Saturday, May 14 also happens at Vroman's bookstore with the likes of Kim Fay, J. Ryan Stradal, and the beloved Lou Mathews, culminating in a conversation between Larry Wilson and U.S. House Representative Adam Schiff.


LitFest Pasadena is FREE to the public.


For the full program and schedule, visit

Monday, March 28, 2022

_La mariposa de Jackeline, Jackeline’s Butterfly_ por Xánath Caraza


La mariposa de Jackeline, Jackeline’s Butterfly por Xánath Caraza


La mariposa de Jackeline / Jackeline’s Butterfly de Xánath Caraza

Traducido al inglés por Sandra Kingery, Hanna Cherres y Aaron Willsea

Imagen de Mariana Ramirez Cano

Casa editorial: FlowerSong Press (2022)

ISBN-13: 978-1-953447-11-1


Since her first book Conjuro in 2012, Xànath Caraza continues her ambitious bilingual publications with a book-length poem, La mariposa de Jackeline / Jackeline’s Butterfly. Spanish and English link in her books, complementary, as she bridges experiences of those who wander and those who find rest, sometimes in death. This prize-winning author illuminates the tragedy of a seven-year-old Guatemalan girl who died in custody of the United States border officials. The sequence of poems, a tour-de-force, follows Jackeline Caal on her fictionalized journey from the tropics to New Mexico. Caraza’s lush language describes interplay of sky, sun, seas, and earth, as the girl journeys through beauty. At death, the poet writes, “You depart full of poetry, Mayan girl. / Your huipil embroidered with blue butterflies. / Your motionless hands loaded with golden memories.” Her soul, freed like a butterfly, finds immortality in her store of memories. This book is essential reading. It celebrates how each individual carries within the fire of eternity.”

    ~Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate, Red Mountain Press prize winner


“Desde su primer libro Conjuro en 2012, Xánath Caraza continúa sus ambiciosas publicaciones bilingües con un poema de la extensión de un libro, La mariposa de Jackeline / Jackline’s Butterfly. el español y el inglés se conectan en sus libros, complementándose, mientras ella enlaza experiencias de aquellos que deambulan y de los que encuentran descanso, algunas veces en la muerte. Esta autora galardonada ilumina la tragedia de una niña guatemalteca de siete años en custodia de los oficiales fronterizos de los Estados Unidos.  La secuencia de los poemas, un tour-de-force, sigue a Jackeline Caal en su viaje ficcional desde los trópicos hasta Nuevo México.  El lenguaje exuberante de Caraza describe la interacción del cielo, el sol, los mares y la tierra, mientras la niña se desplaza entre la belleza.  Al morir, la poeta escribe, “Vas llena de poesía, niña maya / Tu huipil bordado de mariposas azules. / Tus manitas quietas cargadas de dorados recuerdos.” Su alma, liberada como una mariposa, encuentra inmortalidad en su baúl de recuerdos.  Este poemario es una lectura esencial. Celebra cómo cada individuo lleva consigo el fuego de la eternidad.”

~Denise Low, Poeta Lauread de Kansas, Ganadora del Premio Red    Mountain Press


Friday, March 25, 2022

New Libros

Here we go with another list of new books coming your way soon. Better get to that TBR pile sitting on your night table.  So many books, so little time.


Louisa Luna
Doubleday - March 8

[from the publisher]
Alice Vega has made a career of finding the missing and vulnerable against a ticking clock, but she’s never had a case like that of Zeb Williams, missing for thirty years. It was 1984, and the big Cal-Stanford football game was tied with seconds left on the clock. Zeb Williams grabbed the ball and ran the wrong way, through the marching band, off the field, and out of the stadium. He disappeared into legend, replete with Elvis-like sightings and a cult following.

Zeb’s cold trail leads Vega to southern Oregon, where she discovers an anxious community living under siege by a local hate group called the Liberty Boys. As Vega starts digging into the past, the mystery around Zeb’s disappearance grows deeper, and the reach of the Liberty Boys grows more disturbing. Everyone has something to hide, and no one can cut to the truth like Alice Vega. But this time, her partner Max Caplan has his own problems at home, and the trouble Vega finds might be too much for her to handle.

Louisa Luna
understands suspense, tension, and character like only the best writers in crime fiction do—and she may well write the best interrogations in the genre. Hideout is pure adrenaline and Luna’s most intimate thriller yet, a classic cold case wrapped in a timely confrontation with a terrifyingly real network of white supremacists and homegrown terrorists.


Heather Chavez
William Morrow - April 26

[from the publisher]
Schoolteacher and single mom Frankie Barrera has always been fiercely protective of her younger sister Izzy—whether Izzy wants her to be or not. But over the years, Izzy’s risky choices have tested Frankie’s loyalty. Never so much as on a night five years ago, when a frantic phone call led Frankie to the scene of a car accident—and a drunk and disoriented Izzy who couldn’t remember a thing.

Though six friends partied on the outskirts of town that night, one girl was never seen again . . .

Now, an AMBER alert puts Frankie in the sights of the local police. Her truck has been described as the one used in the abduction of a girl from a neighboring town. And the only other person with access to Frankie’s truck is Izzy.

This time around, Frankie will have to decide what lengths she’s willing to go to in order to protect Izzy—what lies she’s willing to tell, and what secrets she’s willing to keep—because the dangerous game that six friends once played on a warm summer night isn’t over yet . . .


Hernan Diaz
Riverhead Books - May 3

[from the publisher]
Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth—all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. But at what cost have they acquired their immense fortune? This is the mystery at the center of Bonds, a successful 1937 novel that all of New York seems to have read. Yet there are other versions of this tale of privilege and deceit.

Hernan Diaz’s Trust elegantly puts these competing narratives into conversation with one another—and in tension with the perspective of one woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a novel that spans over a century and becomes more exhilarating with each new revelation.
At once an immersive story and a brilliant literary puzzle, Trust engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the deceptions that often live at the heart of personal relationships, the reality-warping force of capital, and the ease with which power can manipulate facts.

Hernan Diaz is the author of two novels translated into more than twenty languages. His first novel, In the Distance, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. He has also written a book of essays, and his work has appeared in The Paris Review, Granta, Playboy, The Yale Review, McSweeney’s, and elsewhere. A recipient of a Whiting Award and the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, he has been a fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.


Cleyvis Natera
May 17 - Ballantine Books

[from the publisher]
The Guerreros have lived in Nothar Park, a predominantly Dominican part of New York City, for twenty years. When demolition begins on a neighboring tenement, Eusebia, an elder of the community, takes matters into her own hands by devising an increasingly dangerous series of schemes to stop construction of the luxury condos. Meanwhile, Eusebia’s daughter, Luz, a rising associate at a top Manhattan law firm who strives to live the bougie lifestyle her parents worked hard to give her, becomes distracted by a sweltering romance with the handsome white developer at the company her mother so vehemently opposes.

As Luz’s father, Vladimir, secretly designs their retirement home in the Dominican Republic, mother and daughter collide, ramping up tensions in Nothar Park, racing toward a near-fatal climax.

A beautifully layered portrait of family, friendship, and ambition, Neruda on the Park weaves a rich and vivid tapestry of community as well as the sacrifices we make to protect what we love most, announcing Cleyvis Natera as an electrifying new voice.



Manuel Ramos writes crime fiction.  His latest is Northside Nocturne, a story in the upcoming anthology Denver Noir (Cynthia Swanson, ed.) from Akashic Books.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Chicanonautica: Hollywood Invades Pre-California

by Ernest Hogan

With my radar looking out for California history, the 1955 film Seven Cities of Gold caught my eye. I found it on YouTube, saw it, and needed to review it here.

It doesn’t really fill the gap left by the skimpy coverage of California Indians I learned while going to school in the state. The natives were described as peaceful, and easily converted to Catholicism, and enjoying working in the Missions, like happy slaves on plantations of the South. The film provides a rare Hollywood look at a forgotten slice of history.

It came out of an era when studios were coming up with color and widescreen spectaculars to pry the audience, and their money, from blurry, small, black and white television. Fantasy, sci-fi, and superheroes were still considered outré stuff for kids and weirdos, so these movies were usually historicals, with exotic locations.

The exotic land is California, the place that became San Diego, south of Hollywood, before the sprawling suburbs where I grew up, when it was desert. Water, like just about everything in the state, comes from somewhere else.

It was based on a 1951 novel The Nine Days of Father Serra by Isabelle Gibson Ziegler. Father Junipero Serra is played by

Michael Rennie, who was Klaatu in the science fiction classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still. Once again he was an alien ambassador trying to civilize a primitive people.

After showing sympathy for Indians, he is sent on an expedition to California in search of those elusive Seven Cities of Gold.  It is led by Captain Gaspar De Portola, played by Anthony Quinn, the versatile, Irish-Mexican-American actor who shows that he can play a white Spaniard. His second in command is José Mendoza, played by Richard Egan, who starred in another Fifties sci-fi favorite, Gog. Father Serra is sent along as a “spiritual advisor” and, oh yeah, to found a mission and spread the word of God.

Captain De Portola, and Mendoza, experienced in Indian fighting in other parts of Nueva España, want to kill several of the first ones they meet, but Father Serra convinces them to try to communicate.

At the beginning of the film, the narrator explains that the only things changed about the story, that is presented as true, is that everything has been translated into English. So when they meet the Indians, the Diegueños (a Spanishism, they called themselves the Kumeyaay, or Tipai-Ipai, according to Wikipedia; in 1990 there were 1200 of them on reservations, and 2000 off–wonder if there are any left in 2022?) they speak English, simplifying the usual confusion that happens in a first contact. It is as if they had been provided with Star Trek universal translators. 

Speaking of Star Trek, Matwir, a young warrior who becomes the chief, is played by Jeffrey Hunter, who played the original captain of the starship Enterprise. He is darkened by full body makeup and wears colorful warpaint and feathers. He and all the other Kumeyaay deliver their lines in the halting manner, stressing every word, making it almost impossible to do any real acting. At least none of them said, “Ugh!”

There are some thrilling battle scenes.

The Kumeyaay do find the Spaniard’s technology, guns, scissors, and medicine appealing, but are confused by Father Serra’s God and his desire to get them to junk their culture for his. When the mission is built, no Kumeyaay want to be baptized.

To further complicate things, and to provide some love interest, Mendoza, being frustrated by the lack of white women, falls for Matwir’s sister Ula, played by Rita Moreno years before West Side Story. He keeps it a secret, but then the expedition, having found no cities or gold, is called back to Mexico City, abandoning the mission. Ula is willing to go with Mendoza and marry him, but this was not socially acceptable in those days.


 They argue, and she “accidently” falls off a cliff, which nearly results in the Kumeyaay wiping out the expedition.

They do manage to contrive a happy ending. As they are leaving for Mexico, Father Serra, who didn’t baptize one Indian, rings the mission bell for the last time, gets a demented look on his face, and says, “I hear them coming.”

The more I think about the film, the stranger it gets.

It would also be a good way to trigger discussions of California history.

Ernest Hogan was born and raised in California, and it is a big part of what made him into the Father of Chicano Science Fiction.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

2022 AWP Conference & Bookfair

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Convention Center 

March 23–26, 2022


The AWP Conference & Bookfair is the annual destination for writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers of contemporary creative writing. It includes thousands of attendees, hundreds of events and bookfair exhibitors, and four days of essential literary conversation and celebration. The AWP Conference & Bookfair has always been a place of connection, reunion, and joy, and we are excited to see the writing community come together again in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2022.


In light of the tremendous success of the virtual 2021 AWP Conference & Bookfair, AWP will incorporate a virtual component to #AWP22. In addition to offering an in-person event schedule in Philadelphia from March 23-26, 2022, we will also offer an array of prerecorded virtual events.


To learn more about the conference to see the complete schedule of events visits,


I will be part of this panel, Documenting the Undocumented: Writing the US/Mexico Border across Genres


Time: 9:10 AM - 10:25 AM PDT on Friday, March 25


Place: 115C, Pennsylvania Convention Center, 100 Level or Online.


Moderating by Jennifer De Leon. 

Speakers: René Colato Laínez, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Ricardo Nuila, Aida Salazar


The border. ICE. The wall. Asylum. Human cages. How can we truthfully represent the current immigration crisis at the border in our writing? What are political and philosophical concerns, particularly when authors inherit stories they are in effect still living and when readers might expect a happy ending? Authors across categories—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young adult and children’s books—talk frankly about the struggles and benefits of writing la frontera.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Guest Reviewer: Veronica X Valadez Reviews City On the Second Floor

Tezcatlipoca's Mirror Sees and Shows Floricanto 

Veronica X Valadez 

Matt Sedillo’s City on the Second Floor holds a mirror in front of all of us revealing not what we want to see, but what we need to see. This smoking mirror, otherwise known as “Tezcatlipoca” to Chicanas and Chicanos, is the mirror our ancestors left us with so that we may critically analyze who we are, and who we need to become. This is the mirror that Sedillo’s flor y canto gifts us. What is it that we choose to ignore? What is it that we try to cover up with illusions? What is it that we are willing to speak to, and to resist against? 


Matt Sedillo sheds light on reality as he poetically paints images of poverty, racism, classism, war, environmental destruction, greed, privilege, generational wealth, imperialism, injustice, and the selling of our very souls as we pursue a life of consumerism that dehumanizes us and pollutes our minds, bodies, spirits, and the entire world. This book of poetry delivers a sense of urgency, and wake-up call to the proletariat to see the truth for what it is and to resist! Resist against the false democracy and illusion of freedom that keeps us too busy and too blind to see what is happening right in front of us. It is a reminder that the rich and their relentless greed are leading us to the mass destruction of our humanity and of our planet. 


There are so many issues that we face as a society, and oftentimes it is difficult to face them because it can all be very overwhelming, but Sedillo’s creative way of speaking truth to power through poetry allows us to look at these injustices straight in the face, one poem at a time. It allows us to better understand how systems of oppression work seamlessly through a complex yet simple web of networks, all of which continue to feed the rich and starve the poor. Sedillo unapologetically sticks a finger in the face of government bailouts that allow the rich to “reach for the stars” even if their companies are in the red, leaving the proletariat to pay for it, making the rest of us carry the burden of dept that only gets heavier with time. A dark reminder that, if we’re not careful, we can easily end up living our lives consumed by consumerism, making the rich richer with what should be an inheritance for our own families. 


Sedillo gives the reader a clear picture of what it’s like to live in Los Angeles, from seeing “NO ICE” signs on the freeway bridges to homelessness, to braceros, to the multitude of many other laborers, to cities burning from uprisings against police brutality, to high-rises of the rich, to the cultural richness and resistance of the city. Sedillo’s poetry reminds us not to waste our lives working just to die. It reminds us to bring attention to the economic and environmental injustice we see and experience all around us. It reminds us to recognize and call out global imperialism and the false justification of wars just to make a profit. It warns us of the possibility of allowing our dreams to be eaten up by the economy if we’re not paying attention. 


As an Indigenous Xicana, I appreciate Sedillo pointing out that Brown people are native to this continent and that we have migrated throughout Anahuac for generations just as the Monarch butterflies have. He builds on our shared ancestral knowledge to bring us back home, where we can reclaim our humanity and our dignity. And in Matt Sedillo’s prolific words, I leave you with this, “May you speak with courage and conviction. May you dream of extraordinary things and may your every breath forward the revolution”. 

About the Reviewer:


Veronica X. Valadez – Xicana scholar-activist, artist, danzante, educator, Ethnic Studies advocate, Chicana/o Studies professor, and co-founder & president of Ehecatl Wind Philosophy

Monday, March 21, 2022

"How to Date a Flying Mexican" comes to Los Angeles Mission College on March 26

DANIEL A. OLIVAS in conversation with DR. JOSÉ PAEZ

In a freewheeling discussion, this live event will explore Daniel A. Olivas’s newest book, How to Date a Flying Mexican: New and Collected Stories (University of Nevada Press). This short-story collection is deeply rooted in Chicano and Mexican culture and the literary worlds of magical realism, fairy tales, fables, and dystopian futures. The characters confront—both directly and obliquely—questions of morality, justice, and self-determination.

Praise for How to Date a Flying Mexican

"This deeply textured, sensual collection more than accomplishes Olivas’s self-proclaimed task of rendering the beauty and complexity of Mexican and Mexican American culture in its fabulist, folkloric stories." —Michael Nava, Los Angeles Review of Books

"Throughout all of his stories, there are strong Chicano characters, who embody tales that range from the laugh-out-loud funny to the heartbreaking. A timely retrospective from an important voice in Latinx literature." —Wendy J. Fox, BuzzFeed

"Prompted by tragedy—the death of his father and the pandemic—Olivas revisits decades of writing to produce this collection of new and previously published stories. Olivas’s work is surreal, dystopian, critical, and introspective, ultimately moving into contemporary political rhetoric." —Alta Journal


This event is sponsored by

Tía Chucha’s Centro Cultural & Bookstore


Los Angeles Mission College

Thursday, March 17, 2022

St. Patick's Day or Week in New Orleans

Melinda Palacio

In New Orleans, it's business as usual, laissez les bon temps rouler, and the good times roll indeed. Forget about lent, the period after mardi gras that's suppose to be a somber time and sober time for Catholics. New Orleans takes a big break from lent to celebrate St. Patrick and St. Joseph. The St. Patrick's Day parades span a whole week. I attended the first parade but will probably pass on the ones this weekend. For a short post this week, I offer some photos of the parade held the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day and a few quieter pics from Audubon Park, a favorite place to walk amongst the birds. 

At Audubon Park a goose befriends a swan.

The last of the black bellied whistling ducks. Yesterday only three were left. Wonder why they stayed?

Apparently, this group of balloon suits makes a point of watching the St. Patrick's Day Parade on the very same spot, in the same outfits year after year.

With no concern about a pandemic or Covid cooties, men offer paper flowers to women and expect a kiss in return. 

The Irish Channel in New Orleans kicks off the festivities. Downtown and neighboring communities will hold their own St. Patick's Day Parade. 

Enjoying the beautiful parade day.

Many of the floats appeared to be recycled Mardi Gras floats.

I always tend to catch the most beads. 

And now a nap